Quality Hill stylizes Cole Porter, Noel Coward wit

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By Bob Evans

You can just feel the sense of play as J. Kent Barnhart presents the current Quality Hill Playhouse show, “It’s D’Lovely,” a cavalcade of music from the sharp, cutting, wit of Cole Porter and Noel Coward.

Ah, yes, Barnhart selected witty ditties from the two celebrated multi-talented songwriters and fashioned them together in a two-act cabaret show, featuring Porter in Act I and Coward in Act II. This show gave insight into Barnhart’s background as he explained his childhood, between KCMO and the Ozarks where the family farm lies. He explained how he envisioned parties when his parents were away and invites his evening guests to partake with him as he serves up witty selections from the two cerebral, multi-talented composers.

For his semi-private party, Barnhart invited two friends of Quality Hill Playhouse to join him, Katie Karel and Lindsey McKee. Also included is a fresh face and voice to The Q, Lauren Bradshaw, making her QHP debut. All three ladies deliver beautiful vocals and the right tone for the musical selections.

Cole Porter, is most widely known for his Broadway shows, predominately, wrote “Anything Goes,” “Kiss Me, Kate,” and “Can-Can.” While he wrote many others, those were his jewels. As for Coward, his biggest Broadway successes were non-musicals, “Blithe Spirit” and “Present Laughter.” An Englishman, and close friend to singer/actress Gertrude Lawrence, his resume in Britain exceeds his American body of work. Still, Porter and Coward were notoriously good friends whose wit and sarcasm remains as sharp as ever–as evidenced in the lyrics and music selected by Barnhart.

As a reviewer, this show is fun, new, fresh and made me laugh. But, writing about this is difficult because I did not know most of the music and finding the words match the caliber of the two composers leaves me at a loss for words. (I am seldom at a loss for words.) The performances are strong from Barnhart’s narration through each vocal performance.

I know little about Coward, and I know Porter mainly from his shows. The music contained are not song’s in my wheelhouse. While I enjoy their melodies and laughed at their lyrics, I honestly do not know how my readers will respond.

I enjoyed “It’s D’Lovely,” I encourage my readers to enjoy Barnhart’s party. His enthusiasm about the event allowed me to enjoy the show and peer into his memories. I laughed a lot at Barnhart’s narration and choices–especially “The Physician,”

“It’s D’Lovely continues through March 31 and Quality Hill Playhouse. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 816.421.1700 or through the Quality Hill Playhouse website.

Tags: Quality Hill Playhouse,, “It’s D’lovely”, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment

Images courtesy of Quality Hill Playhouse, Larry Levenson & Quality Hill Playhouse, Bob Evans and Bob Evans | KC Applauds

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